Neutralizing Human Antibodies against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Isolated from a Human Synthetic Fab Phage Display Library.
ABSTRACT: Since it was first reported in Wuhan, China, in 2019, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a pandemic outbreak resulting in a tremendous global threat due to its unprecedented rapid spread and an absence of a prophylactic vaccine or therapeutic drugs treating the virus. The receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is a key player in the viral entry into cells through its interaction with the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor protein, and the RBD has therefore been crucial as a drug target. In this study, we used phage display to develop human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that neutralize SARS-CoV-2. A human synthetic Fab phage display library was panned against the RBD of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (SARS-2 RBD), yielding ten unique Fabs with moderate apparent affinities (EC50 = 19-663 nM) for the SARS-2 RBD. All of the Fabs showed no cross-reactivity to the MERS-CoV spike protein, while three Fabs cross-reacted with the SARS-CoV spike protein. Five Fabs showed neutralizing activities in in vitro assays based on the Fabs' activities antagonizing the interaction between the SARS-2 RBD and ACE2. Reformatting the five Fabs into immunoglobulin Gs (IgGs) greatly increased their apparent affinities (KD = 0.08-1.0 nM), presumably due to the effects of avidity, without compromising their non-aggregating properties and thermal stability. Furthermore, two of the mAbs (D12 and C2) significantly showed neutralizing activities on pseudo-typed and authentic SARS-CoV-2. Given their desirable properties and neutralizing activities, we anticipate that these human anti-SARS-CoV-2 mAbs would be suitable reagents to be further developed as antibody therapeutics to treat COVID-19, as well as for diagnostics and research tools.
Project description:Neutralizing antibody responses to coronaviruses mainly target the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the trimeric spike. Here, we characterized polyclonal immunoglobulin Gs (IgGs) and Fabs from COVID-19 convalescent individuals for recognition of coronavirus spikes. Plasma IgGs differed in their focus on RBD epitopes, recognition of alpha- and beta-coronaviruses, and contributions of avidity to increased binding/neutralization of IgGs over Fabs. Using electron microscopy, we examined specificities of polyclonal plasma Fabs, revealing recognition of both S1A and RBD epitopes on SARS-CoV-2 spike. Moreover, a 3.4 Å cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of a neutralizing monoclonal Fab-spike complex revealed an epitope that blocks ACE2 receptor binding. Modeling based on these structures suggested different potentials for inter-spike crosslinking by IgGs on viruses, and characterized IgGs would not be affected by identified SARS-CoV-2 spike mutations. Overall, our studies structurally define a recurrent anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody class derived from VH3-53/VH3-66 and similarity to a SARS-CoV VH3-30 antibody, providing criteria for evaluating vaccine-elicited antibodies.
Project description:Neutralizing antibody responses to coronaviruses focus on the trimeric spike, with most against the receptor-binding domain (RBD). Here we characterized polyclonal IgGs and Fabs from COVID-19 convalescent individuals for recognition of coronavirus spikes. Plasma IgGs differed in their degree of focus on RBD epitopes, recognition of SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and mild coronaviruses, and how avidity effects contributed to increased binding/neutralization of IgGs over Fabs. Electron microscopy reconstructions of polyclonal plasma Fab-spike complexes showed recognition of both S1A and RBD epitopes. A 3.4Å cryo-EM structure of a neutralizing monoclonal Fab-S complex revealed an epitope that blocks ACE2 receptor-binding on "up" RBDs. Modeling suggested that IgGs targeting these sites have different potentials for inter-spike crosslinking on viruses and would not be greatly affected by identified SARS-CoV-2 spike mutations. These studies structurally define a recurrent anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody class derived from VH3-53/VH3-66 and similarity to a SARS-CoV VH3-30 antibody, providing criteria for evaluating vaccine-elicited antibodies.
Project description:As SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread around the world, there is an urgent need for new assay formats to characterize the humoral response to infection. Convalescent serum is being used for treatment and for isolation of patient-derived antibodies. However, currently there is not a simple means to estimate serum bulk neutralizing capability. Here we present an efficient competitive serological assay that can simultaneously determine an individual's seropositivity against the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein and estimate the neutralizing capacity of anti-Spike antibodies to block interaction with the human angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) required for viral entry. In this ELISA-based assay, we present natively-folded viral Spike protein receptor binding domain (RBD)-containing antigens via avidin-biotin interactions. Sera are then supplemented with soluble ACE2-Fc to compete for RBD-binding serum antibodies, and antibody binding quantified. Comparison of signal from untreated serum and ACE2-Fc-treated serum reveals the presence of antibodies that compete with ACE2 for RBD binding, as evidenced by loss of signal with ACE2-Fc treatment. In our test cohort of nine convalescent SARS-CoV-2 patients, we found all patients had developed anti-RBD antibodies targeting the epitope responsible for ACE2 engagement. This assay provides a simple and high-throughput method to screen patient sera for potentially neutralizing anti-Spike antibodies to enable identification of candidate sera for therapeutic use.
Project description:The spike (S) protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) has two major functions: interacting with the receptor to mediate virus entry and inducing protective immunity. Coincidently, the receptor-binding domain (RBD, residues 318-510) of SAR-CoV S protein is a major antigenic site to induce neutralizing antibodies. Here, we used RBD-Fc, a fusion protein containing the RBD and human IgG1 Fc, as a model in the studies and found that a single amino acid substitution in the RBD (R441A) could abolish the immunogenicity of RBD to induce neutralizing antibodies in immunized mice and rabbits. With a panel of anti-RBD mAbs as probes, we observed that R441A substitution was able to disrupt the majority of neutralizing epitopes in the RBD, suggesting that this residue is critical for the antigenic structure responsible for inducing protective immune responses. We also demonstrated that the RBD-Fc bearing R441A mutation could not bind to soluble and cell-associated angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the functional receptor for SARS-CoV and failed to block S protein-mediated pseudovirus entry, indicating that this point mutation also disrupted the receptor-binding motif (RBM) in the RBD. Taken together, these data provide direct evidence to show that a single amino acid residue at key position in the RBD can determine the major function of SARS-CoV S protein and imply for designing SARS vaccines and therapeutics.
Project description:B cells specific for the SARS-CoV-2 S envelope glycoprotein spike were isolated from a COVID-19-infected subject using a stabilized spike-derived ectodomain (S2P) twenty-one days post-infection. Forty-four S2P-specific monoclonal antibodies were generated, three of which bound to the receptor binding domain (RBD). The antibodies were minimally mutated from germline and were derived from different B cell lineages. Only two antibodies displayed neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2 pseudo-virus. The most potent antibody bound the RBD in a manner that prevented binding to the ACE2 receptor, while the other bound outside the RBD. Our study indicates that the majority of antibodies against the viral envelope spike that were generated during the first weeks of COVID-19 infection are non-neutralizing and target epitopes outside the RBD. Antibodies that disrupt the SARS-CoV-2 spike-ACE2 interaction can potently neutralize the virus without undergoing extensive maturation. Such antibodies have potential preventive/therapeutic potential and can serve as templates for vaccine-design.
Project description:Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV)-2 is a novel and highly pathogenic coronavirus and is the causative agent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The high morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19 and the lack of an approved drug or vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 underscores the urgent need for developing effective antiviral therapies. Therapeutics that target essential viral proteins are effective at controlling virus replication and spread. Coronavirus Spike glycoproteins mediate viral entry and fusion with the host cell, and thus are essential for viral replication. To enter host cells, the Spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2 and related coronavirus, SARS-CoV, bind the host angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor through their receptor binding domains (RBDs). Here, we rationally designed a panel of ACE2-derived peptides based on the RBD-ACE2 binding interfaces of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV. Using SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV Spike-pseudotyped viruses, we found that a subset of peptides inhibits Spike-mediated infection with IC<sub>50</sub> values in the low millimolar range. We identified two peptides that bound Spike RBD in affinity precipitation assays and inhibited infection with genuine SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, these peptides inhibited the replication of a common cold causing coronavirus, which also uses ACE2 as its entry receptor. Results from the infection experiments and modeling of the peptides with Spike RBD identified a 6-amino-acid (Glu37-Gln42) ACE2 motif that is important for SARS-CoV-2 inhibition. Our work demonstrates the feasibility of inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 with peptide-based inhibitors. These findings will allow for the successful development of engineered peptides and peptidomimetic-based compounds for the treatment of COVID-19.
Project description:The spike (S) protein of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is responsible for host cell attachment and fusion of the viral and host cell membranes. Within S the receptor binding domain (RBD) mediates the interaction with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the SARS-CoV host cell receptor. Both S and the RBD are highly immunogenic and both have been found to elicit neutralizing antibodies. Reported here is the X-ray crystal structure of the RBD in complex with the Fab of a neutralizing mouse monoclonal antibody, F26G19, elicited by immunization with chemically inactivated SARS-CoV. The RBD-F26G19 Fab complex represents the first example of the structural characterization of an antibody elicited by an immune response to SARS-CoV or any fragment of it. The structure reveals that the RBD surface recognized by F26G19 overlaps significantly with the surface recognized by ACE2 and, as such, suggests that F26G19 likely neutralizes SARS-CoV by blocking the virus-host cell interaction.
Project description:Neutralizing agents against SARS-CoV-2 are urgently needed for treatment and prophylaxis of COVID-19. Here, we present a strategy to rapidly identify and assemble synthetic human variable heavy (VH) domain binders with high affinity toward neutralizing epitopes without the need for high-resolution structural information. We constructed a VH-phage library and targeted a known neutralizing site, the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) binding interface of the trimeric SARS-CoV-2 Spike receptor-binding domain (Spike-RBD). Using a masked selection approach, we identified 85 unique VH binders to two non-overlapping epitopes within the ACE2 binding site on Spike-RBD. This enabled us to systematically link these VH domains into multivalent and bi-paratopic formats. These multivalent and bi-paratopic VH constructs showed a marked increase in affinity to Spike (up to 600-fold) and neutralization potency (up to 1400-fold) on pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 virus when compared to the standalone VH domains. The most potent binder, a trivalent VH, neutralized authentic SARS-CoV-2 with half-minimal inhibitory concentration (IC 50 ) of 4.0 nM (180 ng/mL). A cryo-EM structure of the trivalent VH bound to Spike shows each VH domain bound an RBD at the ACE2 binding site, explaining its increased neutralization potency and confirming our original design strategy. Our results demonstrate that targeted selection and engineering campaigns using a VH-phage library can enable rapid assembly of highly avid and potent molecules towards therapeutically important protein interfaces.
Project description:Epitopes that are conserved among SARS-like coronaviruses are attractive targets for design of cross-reactive vaccines and therapeutics. CR3022 is a SARS-CoV neutralizing antibody to a highly conserved epitope on the receptor binding domain (RBD) on the spike protein that can cross-react with SARS-CoV-2, but with lower affinity. Using x-ray crystallography, mutagenesis, and binding experiments, we illustrate that of four amino acid differences in the CR3022 epitope between SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV, a single mutation P384A fully determines the affinity difference. CR3022 does not neutralize SARS-CoV-2, but the increased affinity to SARS-CoV-2 P384A mutant now enables neutralization with a similar potency to SARS-CoV. We further investigated CR3022 interaction with the SARS-CoV spike protein by negative-stain EM and cryo-EM. Three CR3022 Fabs bind per trimer with the RBD observed in different up-conformations due to considerable flexibility of the RBD. In one of these conformations, quaternary interactions are made by CR3022 to the N-terminal domain (NTD) of an adjacent subunit. Overall, this study provides insights into antigenic variation and potential for cross-neutralizing epitopes on SARS-like viruses.
Project description:The COVID-19 pandemic prompted an unprecedented effort to develop effective countermeasures against SARS-CoV-2. While efficacious vaccines and certain therapeutic monoclonal antibodies are available, here, we report the development, cryo-EM structures and functional analyses of distinct potent monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that neutralize SARS-CoV-2 and its variant B.1.351. We established a platform for rapid identification of highly potent and specific SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies by high-throughput B cell receptor single cell sequencing of spike receptor binding domain immunized animals. We identified two highly potent and specific SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing mAb clones that have single-digit nanomolar affinity and low-picomolar avidity. We also generated a bispecific antibody of these two lead clones. The lead monospecific and bispecific antibodies showed strong neutralization ability against prototypical SARS-CoV-2 and the highly contagious South African variant B.1.351 that post a further risk of reducing the efficacy of currently available therapeutic antibodies and vaccines. The lead mAbs showed potent in vivo efficacy against authentic SARS-CoV-2 in both prophylactic and therapeutic settings. We solved five cryo-EM structures at ~3 resolution of these neutralizing antibodies in complex with the ectodomain of the prefusion spike trimer, and revealed the molecular epitopes, binding patterns and conformations between the antibodies and spike RBD, which are distinct from existing antibodies. Our recently developed antibodies expand the repertoire of the toolbox of COVID-19 countermeasures against the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen and its emerging variants. Overall design: 10x 5' single-cell VDJ sequencing of CD138+ B cells from mice (C57BL/6 and BALBc) immunized with SARS-CoV-2 RBD. From C57BL/6 mice: 1 sample from spleen+LN, 1 sample from bone marrow. From Balbc mice: 2 samples (pooled spleen+LN+bone marrow).